Matmos

Plastic Anniversary

Thrill Jockey

May 17, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


A small note at the bottom of Plastic Anniversary's press release states plainly that this year makes 25 years since the duo of M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel, comprising the creative force that is Matmos, have been together. According to the long tradition of giving specific gifts for certain anniversary years, the 25-year gift should be silver, yet on this strange and wondrous album, Matmos seem to suggest that for better or for worse, plastic is stronger. Many of Matmos' albums take a unified, creative approach to assembling samples from particular sources, and this one is no different, making all of its sounds from plastic materials. 

This is Matmos' most musical release in years, meaning that a surprising number of its tracks have melodic elements at the forefront. This differentiates it at the very least from the duo's previous album, 2016's wonderful and percussive Ultimate Care II, made from washing machine sounds. "The Crying Pill," which takes a haunting central melody and surrounds it with manic, jittery synth jabs, is fun, if a little psychotic especially considering it's made with plastic containers, a DNA kit, ATM card, and exercise ball. A silicone gel breast implant makes bouncy and plopping noises all over the demented carnival music of "Silicone Gel Implant." And the grand, pretty title track almost forgoes the busy mosaic of plastic percussion and sounds that blanket the rest of the record in favor of an unadorned horn section (made from plastic, of course), but then the poker chips and plastic fish jockstrap jump in for some rhythmic drumming. A large portion of the album sounds on the precipice of being overly cartoonish, but Matmos anticipate this by making sticking to the concept (that of plastic clogging the environment and virtually never going away), and by filling the second half of Plastic Anniversary with intense, warlike tracks like "Thermoplastic Riot Shield" and "Collapse of the Fourth Kingdom."

Plastic Anniversary, like many of Matmos' best releases, almost feels like an audio essay of sorts. It has a point to make, and it makes it well, and sounds consistently intriguing and oddly catchy throughout. And kudos to them for tackling a heavy topic that seems inescapable in 2019, and making it fresh, fun, original, and with the duo's complete artistic intention made very clear. (www.vague-terrain.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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